A frequent complaint that doctors often hear is one of swollen ankles in elderly adults. It can occur in just one ankle, both ankles, and in feet as well. Fluid accumulates in the ankle joint or surrounding soft tissue. This can occur when they:
- Sit for a long time without moving their legs, as when traveling in a car, airplane, etc.
- Consume too much overly salty foods.
- Stand for an extended period.
The Most Common Cause – Edema
Edema refers to an accumulation of excess water in the body. It causes the swelling of soft tissue. It’s referred to as peripheral edema when it affects extremities like feet or ankles.
- Non-pitting edema – When, with a finger, light pressure is applied to a swollen ankle, no depression remains when the finger/pressure is lifted.
- Pitting edema – When, with a finger, light pressure is applied to a swollen ankle, an indentation remains. If the individual is wearing socks with elastic, pitting can also occur.
Over 100 Possible Causes
For people in their golden years, swollen ankles can be caused by more than 100 different medical conditions.
- Lymphatic system damage
- Thrombophlebitis or deep vein inflammation
- Varicose veins
- Poor circulation
- Thyroid conditions
- Kidney disease
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Congestive heart failure
Swollen ankles can also be caused by certain medications such as the following :
- Chemotherapeutic agents
- Narcotic medications
- Adrenergic agonists
- Diabetes medications
- Calcium channel blockers
For aging adults, there are other additional causes for swollen ankles which can include the following:
- Ankle injuries
- Vascular obstruction
- Ankle tendonitis
- Insect bite or sting
- Improper diet
- TIght shoes
What Can Be Done?
The cause of the swelling, or the illness, will determine what treatment is best. However, to alleviate swelling, you can try some of these:
- Physician prescribed medication
- Increase activity and exercise
- Wear support stockings
- Salt intake reduction
- Elevate your legs
Although ankle swelling is a common occurrence particularly in older adults, this doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s always best to err on the side of caution. The underlying cause of the swelling should be diagnosed by a medical professional just to be on the safe side. For whatever condition is causing the swelling, the adult can then be properly treated, once the issue is diagnosed. This could mean more sitting down and less continuous standing, treating the condition of which swelling is a symptom or something else entirely.
Discover Healthy, Happy Living at Spring Mill
To help keep your loved one physically active and healthy, encourage them to participate in our Dimensions Health and Fitness program, Sensations Dining, and Celebrations Activities and Events programs. Few things keep those in their golden years healthy and happy like socialization, purpose, and even moderate exercise.
Contact us if you have any questions or, better yet, schedule a tour.